Original Research - Special Collection: Women Theologies

Representations of Roman Catholic religious sisters’ responses to COVID-19 in the Zambian media

Nelly Mwale
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 2 | a6580 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i2.6580 | © 2022 Nelly Mwale | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 February 2021 | Published: 11 January 2022

About the author(s)

Nelly Mwale, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia; College of Human Sciences, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Despite the growing visibility of religious women’s responses to COVID-19 in the media, the discourses of religion and the pandemic in emerging scholarship were preoccupied with the responses of churches to COVID-19, and neglected the contributions of religious women to the pandemic in Zambia. This article, therefore, explores the interface between religion and COVID-19 through the representations of the responses of Roman Catholic religious sisters to the pandemic, in the media in Zambia, from a religious health asset (RHA) perspective. The study drew on two objectives, namely, to describe the representations of Roman Catholic religious sisters’ responses to COVID-19 in the media; and to explain the nature of the Roman Catholic religious sisters’ responses to the pandemic as represented in the media with a focus on the utilisation of RHAs. It drew on an interpretive case study in which data were collected through content analysis. It shows that the responses of the religious sisters were covered more in Catholic related media. These responses ranged from providing key COVID-19 messages, integrating COVID-19 in the existing programmes to providing basic equipment and food to the needy communities as shaped by the utilisation of RHAs at their disposal, and as informed by their prophetic mission. The article argues that the Roman Catholic religious sisters’ responses to the pandemic affirmed women’s active roles in combating the pandemic.

Contribution: The article’s contribution lies in adding the narratives of women’s contributions to the pandemic in the early stages of the outbreak of COVID-19 to women theologies scholarship in Africa. And also, extending the utilisation of RHAs to the new pandemic and the implications it draws on the need for engendering religious responses to the pandemic by capturing women’s narratives during a pandemic as part of constructing women theologies in the face of COVID-19.


women; religion; religious health assets; COVID-19; media and Roman Catholic religious sisters


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